Babysitter blamed for child's death gets bond cut in half

      Alicia Stepp (file/WCIV)

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A teenager blamed for the death of a toddler in her care asked for a judge to reduce the $100,000 bond set for her by the Charleston County coroner.

      Alicia Stepp, the 17-year-old babysitter of 2-year-old Ginny Hughes, was charged with homicide by child abuse after a 12 hour inquest held by Coroner Rae Wooten.

      Hughes was found unresponsive on July 2 by Stepp. Hughes was on life-support for two days before she died on July 4.

      Medical officials say something traumatic must have happened to Hughes in order to stop the flow of oxygen to her brain. Detectives say they believe Stepp smothered the 2-year-old girl.

      Stepp was the family's live-in babysitter and the first to call 9-1-1 when the toddler was discovered not breathing.

      Attorney David Aylor - who is representing Stepp - is questioning the validity of the coroner's inquest and claimed Wooten "played prosecutor, police investigator and judge."

      Coroner Rae Wooten issued the following statement:

      "The procedures followed for the inquest into Ginny Hughes' death is the procedure prescribed by state law and followed for well over 150 years, in South Carolina, and in the end the evidence was abundantly clear that the child's death occurred unlawfully at the hands of another person. The ultimate decision as to criminal liability is a determination to be made in a court of law also provided for by state law."

      The judge said in the hearing Friday morning that "the statute is clear" and the court considers Stepp's risk of flight and threat to the community.

      The judge then set a new bond at $50,000 with strict house arrest. Stepp also cannot be left alone with a child under the age of 10.